Thursday, 24 July 2008
Thyme soda bread
This is another of the breads I made during my herby bread-baking marathon the other weekend. It was the easiest of the lot as it requires no rising - and it's delicious - and it's pretty healthy, especially when you use wholegrain flour and low-fat yogurt. I was astonished when we were in Ireland recently to discover that you can get soda bread flour in the supermarket - it's like an instant mix. I really don't know why you would need a mix when it's so easy, but perhaps I'm missing some critical secret Irish ingredient. I love my version anyway, so I left the packet on the shelf. I use a recipe from Anthony Worrall Thompson's GI Diet and I've made it with all sorts of combinations of milk, yogurt and buttermilk and it always turns out great. I always mean to record what combination I've used so I can work out whether some are moister or creamier or sharper than others, but I never get round to it. Soda bread is one of my favourite breads, so perhaps I'm not able to be that critical! Anyway, I've tried adding sage to a different recipe in the past, so this time I took Anthony's tried and trusted, and just added some chopped fresh thyme. You could use any herb you liked, and dried would work just as well, too. I particularly like this bread with soup but it makes great sandwiches and toast as well. I think that in Ireland it might actually be called wheaten bread because of the flour, but it's a very close cousin of soda bread.
Last time I made the herby version I had forgotten it wasn't plain and had a nice little secret moment of recollection as I brought my sandwich up to my nose. That's because it smells so nice, not because I eat with my nose or anything. Anyway, here's the recipe:
Wholegrain herby soda bread (from Anthony Worrall Thompson's GI Diet)
If you use milk instead of yogurt or buttermilk in this recipe you will only need to use about 350ml [I generally just add the liquid until the dough is the right consistency, so it's easy to adapt according to what mixture you're using]
Makes 1 loaf
500g wholegrain brown flour [I generally use a granary one]
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
1 tsp caster sugar
About 425ml skimmed milk, low-fat natural yogurt or buttermilk
A good handful of fresh herbs of your choice
Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas 8
Stir the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in 350ml milk or 450ml yogurt or buttermilk
Using one hand in a circular motion, mix in the flour to form a dough which is softish without being too wet or sticky - add more milk or flour if necessary. Turn the dough out on to a floured board. Knead just enough to tidy the dough into a neat ball.
Pat the dough into a round 4cm deep and cut a deep cross on the surface. Bake for 15 mins on a floured baking tray then reduce the heat to 200C/400F/Gas 6 for a further 25-30 mins. To test whether it's cooked, tap the bottom of the bread and if it sounds hollow, it is ready.